Many dog owners consider that providing their four-legged friends with the age/breed appropriate nutrition, periodic vaccination, and regular visits to the vet’s office for checkups constitutes the full extent of their responsibility.

However, they forget that allowing their pets to socialize with other animals as well as humans is also instrumental for a healthy development.

Failing to learn how to interact with humans and dogs renders your canine friend a menace to others when it’s faced with new situations. In addition, he might not be cooperative in life-threatening circumstances, such as when an unknown veterinarian has to perform emergency medical procedures. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as you’re about to find out.

1. Constant fear and stress pose numerous health issues

Fear constitutes the primary emotional response to new situations for a dog that has not learned to socialize properly. In order to understand the impact of fear on the canine body, let’s put things in context.

The physiological responses to fear consist of the excessive secretion adrenaline and corticosteroid hormones, which increase the blood pressure and cardiac rate, preparing the animal for what it perceives as a “fight or flight” circumstance. However normal this reaction may be in actually threatening situations, responding to all stimuli, in the same manner, takes a heavy toll on the heart and circulatory system of the animal.

2. Routine visits to the vet’s office are a nightmare

Fair enough, no dog appreciates having a thermometer stuck up its backside or being poked and prodded by the vet. However, dogs that have learned that human interactions are commonplace are less fearful and more cooperative during routine checkups. On the other hand, a dog that is terrified of socializing will tend to react aggressively, since it incorrectly identifies every form of contact as hostility.

As of such, examining the condition of the gums or teeth, measuring the heart rate or lung capacity, palpating the articulations and other customary tests become impossible or, at the very least, imprecise. Moreover, the state of terror sensitizes your dog’s heart, making it susceptible to cardiac issues when sedation has to be employed.

3. The animal doesn’t get its necessary physical exercise

Most dog owners who failed to teach their pets how to properly interact with humans and their fellow canines are reluctant to walk them in populated areas, such as the dog park, for instance. This applies mainly when the breed is large enough to be considered dangerous, should it manage to escape from the leash, because the owner is legally responsible for the consequences. The direct result is that the dog no longer benefits from the much needed physical exercise, gradually gaining weight to the point of obesity and developing the associated conditions.

Word to the wise

Experts recommend subjecting the puppy to a variety of socializing contexts since the age of 3 weeks and until it is 12 weeks old. Taking car rides, visiting the dog park under constant supervision, human interactions and continued exposure to various social contexts on a weekly basis until it reaches 16 weeks is also advisable. After that age, the puppy should be engaged in an obedience training program.